pun·ish | \ˈpə-nish \
punished; punishing; punishes

Definition of punish 

transitive verb

1a : to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation

b : to inflict a penalty for the commission of (an offense) in retribution or retaliation

2a : to deal with roughly or harshly

b : to inflict injury on : hurt

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Other Words from punish

punishability \ˌpə-nish-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
punishable \ˈpə-nish-ə-bəl \ adjective
punisher noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for punish


castigate, chasten, chastise, correct, discipline, penalize


excuse, pardon, spare

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Choose the Right Synonym for punish

punish, chastise, castigate, chasten, discipline, correct mean to inflict a penalty on in requital for wrongdoing. punish implies subjecting to a penalty for wrongdoing. punished for stealing chastise may apply to either the infliction of corporal punishment or to verbal censure or denunciation. chastised his son for neglecting his studies castigate usually implies a severe, typically public censure. an editorial castigating the entire city council chasten suggests any affliction or trial that leaves one humbled or subdued. chastened by a landslide election defeat discipline implies a punishing or chastening in order to bring under control. parents must discipline their children correct implies punishing aimed at reforming an offender. the function of prison is to correct the wrongdoer

punish and discipline mean to put a penalty on someone for doing wrong. punish means giving some kind of pain or suffering to the wrongdoer often rather than trying to reform the person. The criminals were punished with life imprisonment. discipline is used of punishing the wrongdoer but usually includes an effort to bring the person under control. Parents must discipline their children.

Examples of punish in a Sentence

I think that murderers should be punished by life imprisonment. She was punished for lying. His parents punished him by taking away his allowance. How should I punish my child's misbehavior? State law punishes fraud with fines.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Claims of retaliation against staffers Management punishes those who challenge decisions, workers say, putting additional strain on the short-staffed facility. Martha Bellisle, The Seattle Times, "With patients at risk, Western State Hospital is ‘like going into hell’," 7 July 2018 Likewise the trio of Will Irvine, Julian Moore-Cook and Daryl McCormack, a bickering band from the INLA who have come to punish Padraic for daring to contemplate splintering the splinter group further. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Lieutenant of Inishmore': Theater Review," 5 July 2018 Being pummeled by the Left is not unusual for district attorneys, because the Left generally is more interested in finding excuses for bad behavior than in punishing it. Stu Bykofsky, Philly.com, "Is death penalty turning Krasnerphilia into Krasnerphobia? | Stu Bykofsky," 3 July 2018 In addition to punishing those who make repeated false accusations based on race, Rand said Walgreens and other companies need to end a corporate culture of racial profiling and police need more sensitivity training. Wayne K. Roustan, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Two women accuse Walgreens, Miramar police of racial profiling," 20 June 2018 Stop punishing women for having normal woman experiences and making them dread womanhood. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, "What The New York Times Got Wrong About Female Runners," 13 June 2018 While Nell Lewis applauded academic freedom, her brother, Kemp Lewis, led a campaign to punish those who sponsored Hughes. Longreads, "Nell Battle Lewis, Storyteller for Jim Crow," 25 May 2018 In one, LeBron is punishing a healthy Kyrie in mismatches and breaking the Celtics in a legendary show of revenge. Andrew Sharp, SI.com, "Waiting on Answers to All the Best Kyrie Irving Questions," 23 May 2018 The program implicitly punishes people with lower debt burdens. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, "Win a Game Show, Pay Off Your Student Debt," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'punish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of punish

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for punish

Middle English punisshen, from Anglo-French puniss-, stem of punir, from Latin punire, from poena penalty — more at pain

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Statistics for punish

Last Updated

20 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for punish

The first known use of punish was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for punish



English Language Learners Definition of punish

: to make (someone) suffer for a crime or for bad behavior

: to make someone suffer for (a crime or bad behavior)

: to treat (someone or something) severely or roughly


pun·ish | \ˈpə-nish \
punished; punishing

Kids Definition of punish

1 : to make suffer for a fault or crime The child was punished for lying.

2 : to make someone suffer for (as a crime) The law punishes theft.

pun·ish | \ˈpə-nish \

Legal Definition of punish 

1 : to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense, or violation

2 : to inflict a penalty for the commission of (an offense) in retribution or retaliation or as a deterrent

intransitive verb

: to inflict punishment

Other Words from punish

punishability \ˌpə-ni-shə-ˈbi-lə-tē \ noun
punishable \ˈpə-ni-shə-bəl \ adjective
punisher noun

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Comments on punish

What made you want to look up punish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


lying above or upon

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